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New Lead Producer Interview

By Garrett Fuller on December 02, 2009 | Interviews | Comments

New Lead Producer Interview

Give us a status on Jumpgate Evolution. How is the game coming along?

Lance Robertson:

The game is certainly coming along well, but new challenges crop up every day. We have added several new team members recently (myself included) and have been getting fully up to speed.

At this point, we're actively seeking to expose all sorts of issues ranging from minor playability problems to large scalability issues and everything in between. The content design team is pushing forward and fleshing out all sectors with exciting missions and encounters. We continue to successfully test and hone the PvP experience and I'm very much looking forward to showing it all off to a much larger audience.


We saw Jumpgate a few months ago, one of the features on the game that looked exciting was the badge system; can you tell us about player rewards?

Lance Robertson:

This must refer to the medal system. JGE will have a number of different ways for players to earn rewards and medals. It is very much an achievement system that gives both casual and hardcore players compelling goals to strive for. It provides yet another way for the game to give direction as to what a player might choose to do next.

By joining Jumpgate, tell us what experience you bring?

Lance Robertson:

With many years of experience in varied disciplines, I feel particularly well-suited to work with the talented programmers, artists, designers and content developers here at NetDevil on Jumpgate Evolution. I've been a programmer, artist, art director and producer. I've run creative teams both large and small and had a great deal of fun in the process. This is a tough business we work in and having worked on Dark Age of Camelot from day one all the way through live operations and numerous expansions, I have seen the full breadth and depth of MMO development. This experience gave me a firm grounding in large scale PvP and PvE game systems, plus the art, design and implementation processes to successfully support them. That background naturally translated to our efforts on Warhammer Online and I was once again able to grow and learn from a complete MMO development cycle.


Talk about some of the feedback you have gotten from Beta, how have players been reacting to the game?

Lance Robertson:

Since the start of friends and family testing back in May-July, the team has been working to address all the major concerns that people have had, which I believe has been discussed quite extensively before. While we are not currently in Beta, we're getting ready to gather more internal feedback to see how things have progressed. It's exciting to see the leaps made since this summer in the improved player experience. We have gotten very encouraging feedback so far and have been taking it to heart. In particular, we have greatly enjoyed internal PvP testing recently and everyone has been having a lot of fun. Going forward, it is our intent to grow our tests as quickly as possible in order to get as much insight into the game as we can.

Tell us three aspects of game play that you find most interesting about Jumpgate.

Lance Robertson:

PvP: PvP missions, open space battles and capturing sectors. Exciting combat with many friends and enemies.

PvE: Interesting encounters and missions that help tell a supporting story that grounds the entire war between the three factions and is intertwined in many ways with the PvP conflict.

Fast-paced space combat: I've been a huge fan of space combat games for many, many years.

In regards to PvP what can players expect when fighting in Jumpgate, will there be factions to work for?

Lance Robertson:

There continue to be three nations , fighting over control of space in Jumpgate Evolution. This worked quite well in the original Jumpgate as well as Dark Age of Camelot. It's a proven formula and we're looking to use that as a solid jumping off point for JGE. Your job will be to support your nation by running missions, upgrading battlestations and ultimately conquering and holding sectors (just to name a few of your challenges). The heart of the game is the nation vs. nation war.

Giving the players a feeling of deep space is always a challenge; tell us how you approach that feeling.

Lance Robertson:

Yes it is and I'm happy to say that the team has tackled that challenge in many ways. Space needs to feel like a vast, dangerous and exciting place that players want to explore. A grand sense of scale as well as high contrast helps sell the look and feel we're going for. Dramatic skyboxes combined with interesting "natural" and "man-made" features have been used to combat the feeling of emptiness inherent in games with such large spaces. We need to convey that sense of tremendous distances, but we also need to be very careful since it's very easy to go too far and find it's boring to fly across these huge gulfs.

Art and sector layout aside, we are filling play spaces with plenty of compelling things to do and participate in which also strengthens the feeling that the universe is alive and active. This challenge is an ongoing one and we take it very seriously since we expect you to spend many fun hours out in space.

We have heard some talk about the ship systems and weapons players can experience, tell us some of the ship additions we have not heard about.

Lance Robertson:

That's tempting, but a lot of things are still being worked on, and we don't want to tease you about things that may not make it into the game. I will say we've discussed quite a few things about ship systems - although we're working on some differences to the weapons and, potentially, armor systems which I think people will like.

Something that has not been mentioned is the new player experience; tell us what players can expect when they start the game.

Lance Robertson:

We all know how important it is to introduce players to the game in a gradual, effective and most importantly, fun way. It is our goal to teach someone how to play the game in the least intrusive way possible. I feel it is critical for the game to be very open and accessible. It must be easy to grasp the flight controls and have early successes, then gradually build on that with more complexity. It's a simple approach that you've all heard before, but we are very keyed in on it. We want the player to feel like they are making progress right out of the gate and not participating in a formal tutorial. Our approach is to teach what you need to teach and then get out of the way of the fun. I'll be very interested to see how the beta testers react to it.

What is your favorite part about working on Jumpgate Evoluton?

Lance Robertson:

I really like all of the core concepts that have been established for the game so far. So seeing those come to life is very exciting. I also find that the game matches very nicely with what I've been looking for in a space MMO for a very long time. That certainly makes it very easy to work on.